1. Use recycled and (Forest Stewardship Council) FSC approved paper stocks.
2. Try to decrease the use of colour treated paper or paper that has been coated with a chemical to give it a high gloss finishing. Instead use copy paper that are 100% post-consumer waste and processed chlorine-free.
3. Avoid purchasing very bright white paper as they maybe treated with bleach and other chemicals to make them so bright and white.
4. Instead of printing out concepts and designs for review and approval, send a PDF version to view.
5. Maximize as much individual design into a sheet as possible so there would be less wasted paper left behind after cutting.
6. Avoid using heavy ink coverage such as having a white word over a 100% Black background, which uses more resources and produce more waste.
7. Using a lower weight paper stock. Heavy weight stocks such as 80lbs or greater has more fibers per sheet than those of lowers ones such as 24lbs. A lower paper weight uses less resources to produce.
8. Print on both sides of the paper whenever possible to reduce waste.
9. Make the most of your white space and try to fit as much into a page as possible. Although, as a designer myself, I understand that there are times when a design calls for lots of white space on a page.
10. Try not to bleed your pages. In order to bleed a 8.5×11 sheet of paper, it must need to be printed on a larger sheet (eg: 9×12) and then cut to an 8.5×11 size causing waste.
11. Stay on top with new trends and techniques in printing. Meet up with print suppliers and ask them to tell you of new innovations that they are doing to help with the environment.
12. Use vegetable oil-base ink rather than mineral-based ink. Vegetable based ink will reduce the amount of pollution as well as they dry faster and produce an excellent image quality. Look for a supplier that uses vegetable based ink, even though generally they are about 8-10% higher.
13. Reduce your shipping impact on the environment: Use locally produced paper and printers close to the end delivery location.
14. Purchase paper in bulks to decrease the air pollution of having unnecessary deliveries to cut down on the shipping impact.
15. Reduce the amount of direct mailers send to customers. Give customers an option if they would like coupons, information, newsletters, etc… to be send to their email address instead.
16. Recycle: Designers can use up a lot of paper when they are printing, please practice recycling.
17. Reuse: If a design can be reuse again do so. Example can be a banner or signage. If it can be made generic and be used again it would greatly reduce cost and help the environment.
18. Stop laminating: Laminating is expensive and bad for the environment, if a design piece need to be sturdy and professional looking, try using a heavy high quality paper stock rather than laminating.
19. Return your empty toner and ink cartridges, waste bottle container, drums, etc… Talk to your printer supplier on the options to do this.
20. Please consider the environment when you print, whether it be an email, document, etc… Is it necessary to print the file or can it be read on the screen.
21. On your signature of your email after your name and contact information add in the text “please consider the environment before printing this email”, this will encourage the reader to think twice, whether its necessary to print the email.
22. MAC users can download the Sustainable Graphic Design widget, which delivers basic information about the environmental impacts that design methods and techniques have.
23. Avoid printing on vinyls because they are printed on solvent-based inks that are high in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are highly toxic. However there are better and better eco-friendly alternatives such as the HP Designjet L25500 and the DesignJet L65500 printer which uses non-toxic water-based ink.
24. And lastly, spread the word out to other designers, clients, employers, friends, suppliers and vendors. We can all make a difference one step at a time.
More information on how to become a “green” designer:
AIGA Centre for Sustainable Design
Design Can Change
Eco-friendly printers in Vancouver:
Metropolitan Fine Printers
En Masse Media